Yesterday was Palm Sunday. It brought back memories of years ago when my oldest daughter, Tulip, was 15 and had just signed up to be a lector at our church. Her lectoring debut was on Palm Sunday and the scripture was about Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
Just before we entered the church, Tulip whispered, “Mom, I have to read the word ‘ass’ twice.”
I knew she was nervous about speaking in front of the congregation. I told her that ‘ass’ isn’t considered a bad word in Europe, and a lot of European children’s books have it. “If that’s what it says, then that’s what you have to read.”
Tulip made it through the readings without stuttering, blushing, or giggling. I was surprised that my dainty 90-pound daughter’s voice carried all the way to the back of the church.
After Mass, Sister Concilio O’Keeffe, the second grade teacher, came over to us and complimented Tulip. “One of the best readers I’ve ever heard,” she said in her lovely Irish accent.
I explained how nervous Tulip was about having to read the word ‘ass.’
“Oh, no, it’s not a bad word over in Ireland where I grew up,” Sister said.
Tulip’s younger sisters, Lily and Sunflower, had been listening intently.
“Well,” 10-year-old Lily spoke up, “what are the bad words in Ireland?”
I cringed, but Sister Concilio laughed and said, “I think that’s a lesson we’ll have to skip.”
With Good Friday approaching, I’m reminded of a note Laurie Lundquist wrote to me years ago, which shared a conversation she had with her six-year-old step-daughter, Madison, and her husband, Mark. They were talking about the crucifixion scene in the “Glory of Easter” production they saw at the Crystal Cathedral.
“It’s a shame they had to do that on a holiday,” Madison said.
“We, of course, got a good laugh,” Laurie said, “and then we had to explain to her that Jesus being crucified is what created the holiday.”
We never know what kids will come up with next, do we?
(A version of these stories first appeared in the Highland Community News in April 1999.)